Discussions of ethical challenges in the public sector frequently lead to discussions of the “political-administrative interface”, which seems to be a euphemism for political interference in the bureaucratic systems of government. To which the solution is just as frequently given that we need a “more professional” public sector.

On the surface it may seem that we can just appeal to public servants to be better — more professional, more ethical — and rest comfortably, hoping that rhetoric will translate into change. Yet this strategy misses the deeper problems enabling the unprofessional and unethical practices in the first place...

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